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July 01, 2008

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Moose Guns: How Much Is Enough?

Moose I was just writing up an account of a moose hunt I did last fall in Newfoundland and was recalling a conversation I had with one of the hunters in camp who had traveled from New York to go for his first bull.

We were getting ready to check our zeros at the makeshift range outside of camp and as he uncased his rifle, a Browning A-Bolt in 7mm Rem. Mag., he was genuinely concerned that he was undergunned. Seems his buddies back home had told him a .338 Win. Mag. as the “minimum” for moose.

That’s nonsense, of course.

Yes, a moose is a large animal but any deer caliber—starting with the 6.5s—shooting a bullet designed for deep penetration is plenty of gun.

I shot my bull with a .338 Federal—not a .338 Win. Mag. by any stretch—and both my shots (with 185-grain Barnes Triple Shocks) completely passed through the bull’s chest. A hard-kicking magnum would have added nothing to the proceedings.

Our outfitter confessed that of the more than 70 moose he’s shot over his lifetime more than half fell to his .30-30, which is about as far as you can get in a big-game chambering from the .338 Win. Mag.

And, not to beat a dead bull here, our Scandinavian sporting brethren kill a godawful number of moose each year with their beloved 6.5x55 Swede. The moose don’t seem to know that those bullets aren’t supposed to turn their lights out.

—John Snow



At how many yards did you shoot the moose? That plays a role in the bullet pass through, as well as the excellent bullets used.

John Snow

The bull was about 75 yards from me, broadside, for both shots. He was facing to my left on the first shot, spun around, and was going the other way for the second.

Gerald Keller

I have taken two moose in Newfoundland.One with a 280 Ackley using 140gr. Barnes Triple-shocks,Two shots complete pass throughs both shoulders.Second
one with a 338-06,185gr. Triple-shocks.Neither moose took more than two or three steps.Both were shot at about 110-120 yards.
Put a good bullet in the right place and any size animal will succumb.


I killed several moose back in the late 60's & early 70's when I was stationed in AK. I used a 7mm Mag with 175gr Barnes, 358 Win, 375 H&H, 45LC and a 308. Ranges were from 20yds to 300 yds. Only 1 took 2 rounds. They are not hard to kill. Just put a good bullet in the right place and they will go down.

Jim Andrews

I killed two moose in Alaska with my trusty old 264 Winchester Mag. The first was at about 350 yards and the other at about 300 yards. Both died with only one shot.

Edward Amey

All the moose that I have shot have been with a 30.06. I use Winchester Super X 180 gr. Silver Tip shells. The one I got this past fall was at 270 yds and did not go far. The most important thing is, shot placement.

alberta hunter

I have hunted moose for several decades with everything from a 30-30 to 300wm and with many different hunters. I have seen several dropped moose get up and take off from inexperienced hunters who were not ready to shoot again. Moose up here are huge and I almost lost one years back on a northern bush hunt. after a long,often on knees search in dense bush I found it and the 30-06 bullets were deadon but still inside the chest. I get ridiculed for the big gun but the few lost animals over the years that fed coyotes still bother me so now when there is no snow I only use 300wm as I know it will do the job and leave a good blood trail.


Moose are funny in that you can kill an 1600 pound bull with less gun than most people would use to kill a 700 pound bull elk. I cannot account for the disparity, because this definitely bucks the trend of "big animal, big gun" that tends to hold true throughout big game hunting. However, I'm sure glad it's true because with all the hiking, brush busting and slogging through wet terrain, the last thing I want is the additional weight of a massive gun!


.223, .222, .22-250, .243, .270, .30/06 are all capable calibers for taking moose, shot placement is the key. I've taken and seen it taken with above rifles, and plenty of them. But something about my .300wm that I like when taking moose the past 8 years is that they drop dead in their tracks with minimum movement afterwards which makes for better eating.


Aren't the moose in Sweden actually a smaller species than over here in North America?

David Ansell

When I hunted moose a couple times in Ontario back in the '70s, my Cree and Ojibway indian guides thought I was ridiculously over-gunned with a .270. The had killed countless moose with their .30-30s but -- and you might not believe this-- they told me most of the moose they had killed were taken with a .22 long rifle while they worked their traplines. They said they would empty the weapon into the moose's lungs, then wait for him to go lay down and die-- which they said he always did. Claimed they never lost one!